Traveling to a foreign country can be intimidating, and if you’re here on a visa, it might feel like you’re sitting on a ticking timebomb. But that’s really not the case. Obviously, it’s optimal to be in the country, working or visiting with a valid visa, but just because your visa expires does not mean you have to leave, nor will you be incarcerated solely for overstaying your visa. Before we get into your options, it may be in your best interest to contact an immigration lawyer if you’re here on an expired visa or soon-to-be expired visa.
What does the expiration date mean?
To begin with, the visa expiration date does not reflect the amount of time that you can stay in the United States. You may have a visa that’s valid for six months, but you’re only able to visit for 30 days. The visa is a window of time in which you can conduct your visit. In many cases, the visa expiration and the anticipated end of your stay are one in the same, but keep in mind that there may be two distinctly different dates.
How You Should Prepare if Your Visa is Expiring
If you are planning on extending your stay, you should file a request for extension with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-94. Providing that you have allowed enough time, you may be able to get an extension. In the event that your extension is not granted by the expiration of your visa, you may have to leave and reapply. If you still have time on your visa but listed a different departure date, you may be able to leave and re-enter on the same visa.
What it Means to Have no Immigrations Status
If you remain in the country after your visa expires, you are considered to have “no immigration status” or limbo. That is not as frightening as it sounds. You will be allowed to remain in the United States until a decision is made. You cannot, however, continue to work if you have a position here. During the time until your decision is made, you do not accrue unlawful presence days. If you are told to leave, however, and you stay, you will begin accruing unlawful status days. If you accrue more than 180 days during a single stay, you cannot return to the United States for three years. If you have remained for more than a year, you’re barred from entry for 10 years.
Frequently Asked Questions About U.S. Immigrations
The following are the answers to some frequently asked questions about U.S. Immigration. For professional advice, contact an immigration attorney near you.
How long does it take to apply for a visa?
This largely depends on the country from which you’re applying. You should anticipate three to five weeks before receiving your visa.
Do I need a visa to enter the U.S. for vacation?
The United States requires visitors to carry passports. If you are from one of the 39 countries that participate in the visa waiver program, you don’t need a visa just to visit. You will, however, require one of work or education.
For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, a U.S. embassy or consulate, or an immigration attorney near you.